Central server takes control in Volkswagen’s ID.3

Central server takes control in Volkswagen’s ID.3

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The high-performance computer, supplied by Continental and referred to by VW as “In-car Application Server 1” (ICAS1), replaces numerous separate ECUs, which usually control individual functions, each one separately. At the same time the computer serves as an intelligent gateway to the Internet and online services.

The computer, labeled internally by Continental as HPC, was developed by the automotive supplier in close cooperation with software company Elektrobit. As ICAS1 in the VW ID.3, the HPC is also a central element for the conversion to a service-oriented electronic architecture. The server represents the central data node and the connection point between the vehicle and the digital world. It enables new software functions and safety updates to be installed in the vehicle at any time in the future via a wireless connection. Over-the-air updates will thus become the norm for Volkswagen’s new electric cars.

Continental did not want to say which processor powers the ICAS1, citing a confidentiality agreement with Volkswagen. A company spokesperson said that Continental is working with “a strategic portfolio several microprocessor vendors”, and that “Nvidia is completing this portfolio especially for the technology of AI-based solutions for self-driving vehicles.” The spokesperson also explained that that the ICAS1 is a customisation of joint platform developments by Continental and Elektrobit, both in terms of hardware and software.

Thanks to the server concept, which has not been established in the automotive sector up to now, both applications from Volkswagen and software from third companies can be integrated. The provision of functions, such as range-optimised route planning and the localisation of charging stations for electric cars, is thus simplified.

Continental has also developed the so-called “Plug and Charge” function for the ICAS1, which is used to control and simplify the vehicle charging process. It will be available from 2021. When the charging cable is plugged in, the software in the ICAS1 will be able to authenticate the registered vehicle at supported charging points and take over the charging process and its billing based on the charging contract stored in the back end.

The ICAS1 is intended to be the central control unit for all vehicles based on the Modular Electric Drive Toolkit, including the Chinese model variants and those models that are brought to the market by other vehicle manufacturers through cooperation, such as Ford. The computer is also to be used in the planned electric SUV ID.4.

Continental also supplies another important component of the ID.3: an electric drum brake with electromechanical parking brake function. The brake is based on the simplex principle (EBP-Si). According to Continental, this makes it particularly robust and low-maintenance; the supplier speaks of a lifetime service interval of up to 150,000 kilometres. It also offers OEMs greater design freedom for the vehicle interior and in the design of driver assistance systems. The long-range radar system (range 200 m) and the wheel speed sensors are also provided by the Hanover-based supplier.

Related articles:

Reports: Volkswagen struggles with software problems at ID.3

Volkswagen setting off into the E-era

Vehicle server provides computing power for Volkswagen’s ID e-cars

Subaru uses Xilinx chips in central driver assistance system

Daimler, Nvidia co-develop software-defined vehicle architecture

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